Collette V. Smith was always a football fan. She grew up watching the game but unfortunately it was a time when organized football was unavailable to girls at any level. So imagine her surprise when in 2011 she found herself at age 42, trying out for the New York Sharks of Independent Women's Football League.
Collette's journey is one that is sprinkled with a good helping of struggle and overcoming obstacles and events. After leaving New York to attend college in Alabama at Tuskegee University, she was raped by a family member. The trauma caused her to leave school and give up her dream of a career in veterinarian medicine. She bounced around and survived some shady experiences and abusive relationships and eventually launched a successful career in New York real estate. But this is a story of a love affair with football.
When Collette found herself dealing with some unaccustomed downtime during the housing market collapse of 2008, she was idly scrolling on her computer one day when she came came across a listing that changed things completely; "Women's Pro Football Team Tryouts." Investigating further, in disbelief of what she was reading, she realized it was indeed an open call for tryouts for a women's football team. Inspired to go to see this actually happening, Collette got in her car and drove to Brooklyn where the tryouts were being held. Arriving without any equipment or even football cleats, Collette was so empowered by what she was seeing and hearing, she resolved then and there to tryout and make the team. Collette's playing career lasted 3 years until an injury took her off the field. Committed to the team, Collette pivoted into the team's front office as Director of Marketing, PR, Promotions and Events while also contributing as a defensive coach.
Growing up in New York as a Jets fan, Collette took the initiative, working towards creating promotional opportunities for her women's team and one of the results of her efforts was forging a relationship with the Jets front office. An invitation to a Jets practice lead to a meeting with then Jets head coach Todd Bowles. Collette impressed Coach Bowles with her football acumen and he invited her to come back. Collette kept coming back enthusiastically. Eventually, in the summer of 2017, a call came from Coach Bowles who invited her to join his staff.
Collette became the first female coach of the NEW YORK JETS and the first African-American female to coach for an NFL team. She realizes the significance of that accomplishment. Opportunity hasn't been equitable for women and African-American women in particular. Yet, as historic as that achievement is, Collette continues to contribute as an advocate and activist. As a trailblazer in the world of professional sports, and an advocate for women, Collette became sought after as a motivational speaker. Realizing the impact her story had led her to establish Believe N You, Inc, an organization which seeks to empower young women and girls to achieve their goals through events and workshops.
As the focus of this edition of our #SeeHER Spotlight, we give an enthusiastic high-five to Coach Collette!
For more information, please visit: https://believenyouinc.com